The ‘Universal social protection: achievements, challenges and opportunities’ webinar took place on 25 July 2019. This was the second webinar of the USP2030 webinar series organised by socialprotection.org, in collaboration with the International Poverty Centre for Inclusive Growth (IPC-IG).
The members of the Global Partnership for Universal Social Protection to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (USP2030) have made a call on all countries and international partners to support the global commitment to implement SDG target 1.3 by 2030. Actions include coordinating country support to strengthen national social protection systems, documenting country experiences, providing evidence on financing options, and fostering advocacy for universal social protection.
This webinar focused on progress towards the achievement of Universal Social Protection (USP) by exploring country-based experiences and their main challenges from design to implementation. The participants addressed different views and controversial issues by exploring case studies and examples.
The event was moderated by Ms Mira Bierbaum (Junior Professional Officer, ILO Headquarters), alongside presenters Mr Maliki (Director for Population Planning and Social Protection, Ministry of National Development Planning/National Development Planning Agency (BAPPENAS)), Ms Cecilia Mbaka (Head of National Social Protection Secretariat, State Department of Social Protection), and Mr Rafael Osorio (Senior Research Coordinator (IPC-IG) and Researcher at the Institute for Applied Economic Research (IPEA)).
Institutionalisation of Social Protection in Indonesia
Mr Maliki started the presentation by introducing the trajectory of the institutionalisation of social protection in Indonesia. The provision of social protection to the poor and vulnerable by the government has been constitutionally mandated since 1945. Before the political reform of 1997, social insurance programmes covered government officials and formal workers, and the social safety net provided health support for the poor. Between 1998-2014, more social assistance programmes towards the poor population were implemented.
Since 2015, the new cabinet has launched a National Medium-term Development Plan 2015-2019, which includes three strategies for reducing poverty, vulnerability and inequality.
Challenges: The “unseen’’ middle group
By law, social assistance programmes in Indonesia are directed to the poorest, which accounts for 40% of the population, while social insurance is supposed to cover the whole population. However, only 20% of the population is financially capable to enrol in the National Social Security system and other private schemes. A large number of middle-class informal workers who cannot afford social insurance schemes but are not eligible to participate in social assistance programmes are left uncovered. This “unseen” middle group encompasses 40% of the population.
Mr Maliki highlighted the following accomplishments over the past five years:
- Creation of 2,98 million jobs.
- Reduction of the poverty rate to 9,66%, lifting 25,67 million people out of poverty.
- Decline in the Gini Ratio to 0,384.
In addition, several programmes have reached high coverage. Especially the National Health Insurance Programme has shown notable progress covering currently almost 80% of the population. Nonetheless, improving the access to social security by informal workers remains a challenge.
BAPPENAS is currently formulating a Medium-term Development Plan for 2020-2024, which strategically focuses on issues related to targeting, financing, coverage and institution. The main objective is to achieve comprehensive and integrated social protection by working on the following aspects:
- Institutional building: Planning, budgeting, and monitoring and evaluation social protection.
- Single Window Services: Integrated data, complaint resolutions, and services.
- Adaptive Social Protection.
- Increase coverage: Reaching informal workers and persons with disabilities.
- Improve social insurance benefits: Return to work; pension for informal workers; unemployment insurance; and long-term care.
Social protection in Kenya
Ms Cecilia Mbaka followed by giving some background information on social protection in Kenya. The African country has had a National Social Protection Policy since 2011, which offered a very broad social protection definition, resulting in several implementation challenges.
A new policy is currently being drafted, in which social protection is defined as a “set of policies, programmes, interventions and legislative measures aimed at cushioning all Kenyans against poverty, vulnerability, exclusion, risks, contingencies and shocks throughout their lifecycles, and promoting the realization of economic and social rights”. This definition encompasses the idea of life-cycle and includes all Kenyan people as right holders of social protection provisions.
Progress towards SDG target 1.3.
Ms Cecilia Mbaka highlighted different achievements towards the SDG target 1.3. In terms of the legislative and policy environment, the country has, for instance, adopted a Social Assistance Act and a Social Security Act. The latter is currently being amended to address the issue of social security contribution by informal workers.
In terms of institutional development, there are several institutions, such as the State Department for Social Protection, and a National Social Protection Secretariat that provides policy direction, and coordinates and guides the sector. Concerning programmatic development, several social protection interventions have been implemented, and quality has also improved due to better designs and techniques.
Regarding delivering interventions, many systems are in place, such as: the Management Information Systems (MIS), the Single Registry (SR), the National Monitoring & Evaluation Framework, among other strategies. Finally, in terms of increased government ownership and financing, all cash transfer programmes are now fully government owned and funded and the government has made commitments to increase investments in social assistance and spearhead social security reforms.
Bottlenecks and challenges
- High levels of poverty (36% in 2015) and high demand for social protection.
- Weak efficiency of existing systems, e.g. payment delivery systems are not optimal.
- Duplication of activities due to weak coordination, despite efforts of the National Social Protection secretariat.
- Majority of informal workers are still not contributing to social security, risking to become candidates for cash transfer programmes.
- Limited fiscal space to expand coverage.
Opportunities: lessons learned
- Need to entrench USP in various legislation and policies.
- Strengthening coordination and linkages of key sectors.
- Creating systems to increase efficiency and effectiveness in USP programmes.
- Reduction in inequality through social solidarity and income redistribution.
- Need for a life cycle approach to ensure nobody is left behind.
- Strong collaboration between National and County government.
Achievements of social protection in Brazil
Mr Raphael Osorio presented the developments of social protection in Brazil and introduced ideas to expand and improve social protection through reprogramming.
Over the last 50 years, many mechanisms of social protection have been institutionalised in the country, resulting in the expansion of social transfers for low wage workers, the introduction of non-contributory old age and disability pension, and the provision of cash transfers to poor families. By 2003, there were four different targeted cash transfers, and the sitting government decided to unify three of them under the Bolsa Familia programme as a way to create fiscal space.
Cadastro Unico (Single Registry) has been one of the most important outcomes of Bolsa Familia keeping information on the most poor and vulnerable Brazilian and facilitating beneficiary selection to more than 30 programmes. Due to concerns over fraud, Cadastro Unico has been unified with other registries and is now able to cross check relevant household information for programme eligibility.
Anti-poverty programmes in Brazil targeting children
a. Bolsa Familia
The Bolsa Familia is the largest programme, transferring BRL 29 billion to 43 million beneficiaries (in 2017). The programme has a pro-poor redistributive profile with 77% of the benefits being transferred to the poorest Brazilians.
b. Salario Familia
Salario Familia, which came into force in 1940, targets low wage formal workers and pensioners. 53% of the programme’s benefits reaches the 33% of people in the middle of the income distribution. The programme is also conditioned on children’s school attendance and immunization, however, according to Mr. Rafael Osorio, these conditionalities have never been enforced.
c. Abono Salarial
Abono Salarial is transferred to formal workers earning less than two minimum wages on average, regardless of household income, size or demographics. In 2017, 45% and 39% of the benefits were transferred to the middle and the top of the income distribution, respectively.
d. Dedução por criança (tax deduction per child)
The child deduction of annual taxable income, created in 1956, was a way of targeting less affluent families using the presence of children in the household as indicator. In 2017, 99% of the benefits went to the top 33% of the income distribution.
The distributive profile of all 4 programmes
Without accounting for overlaps, all these programmes together reached 80.1 million people and costed 52.8 billion in 2017. Around 40 million people are in households with overlapping benefits.
By distributing BRL 52.8 billion through these 4 programmes, the country achieves Brazil achieves a decline in the Gini 55.4 to 53.7 and a reduction of extreme poverty (USD 1.9/day) headcount from 7.4% to 5.9%. However, almost all the reduction in inequality and poverty is produced by Bolsa Familia.
In a forthcoming study, Mr Osorio and colleagues make a proposal to unify these 4 programmes in an integrated system of non-contributory benefits, which would be like a “super Bolsa Familia”. The proposal aims to illustrate that Brazil can do more to fight poverty and inequality without the need to increase the amount of resources currently allocated to child welfare and anti-poverty programmes. The unification of the programmes is estimated to reduce the Gini from 55.4 to 52. and extreme poverty from 7.4 to 4.4%.
The webinar closed with an interesting Q&A session, accessible here.
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